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The Vision Of Piers Plowman: "B" Text Paperback – 1995

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.

About the Author

William Langland lived from c.1330 to c.1386. He was born near Malvern and was educated for a career in the Church, but appears to have married and never proceeded beyond minor orders. A.V.C. Schmidt taught at University College, Dublin and Exeter College, Oxford, before becoming Andrew Bradley-James Mazwell Fellow in 1973 at Balliol College, Oxford, where he is Senior English Fellow.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman: The Vision of Piers Plowman; 2 edition (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0460875094
  • ISBN-13: 978-0460875097
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Personally I don't see the point of translating English into English, so if you want to read The Vision of Piers Plowman as it was written (well, one version anyway!), this is the edition to get. However, I do concede that our language has changed to the extent that reading such a text is difficult without aids - of which this book is chock full. You have (a) footnotes and translations of the Latin quotes (b) notes on lexical elements of the text (c) notes notes on the meaning of the text. (a) is presented alongside the text whilst (b) and (c) are at the back, which does mean flicking to and fro as you read, but the rewards are worth it! This is the standard to which all modern print editions of medieval manuscripts should aspire. Outstanding work.
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Format: Paperback
I remember having to recite the prologue of the Canturbury Tales in Middle English in high school but this is a couple hundred pages. I have read some 'Middle English' books where it wasn't difficult to understand at all, only the spelling was slightly off. THIS IS NOT THE CASE HERE!
For example:
But of coket or clermatyn or ellis of clene whete
That sentence is translated as follows:
But only loaves made of fine wheat flour, or at least only out of wheat unmixed.
There is a lot of latin thrown in as well, so if you are a curious reader who has no background in germanistics or medieval literature, this might not be the book for you. You will probably understand 60-70 percent of what is going on, but a modern English translation might be better.
The story itself is awesome and far superior to Pilgrim's Progress. Like that story, the narrator has a vision and encounters various aspects of human nature in his quest for salvation. The characters are more complex than in Pilgrim's Progress and you have a beautiful tale of a man trying to adhere to his Christian faith amidst clerical and secular corruption.
Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The poem of 'Piers the Ploughman' is often considered to be anonymously composed, as the name William Langland was less an authorial designation as it was an inscription on the back of a manuscript - it would be as if I would be assigned the authorship of the O.E.D. because, in some future time, the only remaining copy was missing the title pages, but still had the hard-cover with my 'ex libris' impression on it. Be that as it may, Langland is considered at least as likely an author as any other, and becomes a sort of stand-in, an 'everyman' for his time period. A few details of this Langland are known - he was a wanderer, a constant reviser (the poem goes through several revisions that scholars have designated as texts A, B, and C (and some argue for Z). This is not a spiritual autobiography, as J.F. Goodridge states in an essay about Langland in another edition, but there are no doubt autobiographical elements in the text. That the lead character is named 'Will' helps in this identification.

This poem stands alongside Chaucer's 'Canterbury Tales' as one of the great products of Middle English; this also has the character of being a different sort of Middle English than Chaucer's more courtly, continental influenced variety. Thus, it gives breadth to the history of the English language. Langland is often ranked as a great English poet on a par with Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth and Yeats, as representative of his age both in topics as well as language facility.

This epic poem deals with themes familiar for the time - like Dante and Milton, Langland deals with the grand ideas of the meaning of life and the destiny of humankind.
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Format: Paperback
Piers Plowman comes down to us in three main versions: the A, B, and C texts. This edition is based on the B-text, which is widely considered to be both more radical in its association with the Lollard heresy, and more aesthetically pleasing when compared with the later C-text. This edition provides a textual apparatus, footnote translations as the editor deemed necessary, and explanatory endnotes.

At the level of "scholarly seriousness," this edition lies somewhere between the heavy-duty Donaldson B-text (Piers Plowman: The B Version - Will's Visions of Piers Plowman, Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best: An Edition in the Form of Trinity College Cambridge MS B.15.17, Corrected and Restored from the Known Evidence, with Variant Readings (Revised Edition)) and the several translations that are floating around on Amazon. For the serious student, this edition simply cannot be beat in terms of price. For the casual reader, one of the translations might be preferable; while Langland's Middle English is more fun to read, his dialect will seem a bit alien to most eyes. Furthermore, I question whether or not it is really necessary for a non-scholar to read an original language edition. To my mind, the poetic language of Piers Plowman is not on par with that of Chaucer, Gower, or the Pearl Poet, and I think that Langland sometimes does not understand the dynamics of alliterative verse. While it may not be at the level of "rum, ram, ruf, by lettre," I don't think the casual reader need upbraid herself for not plodding through the Middle English. However, it's all a matter of determining what one wants from the text.
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